How Marriott’s Owner Learned to Love the Gays

Published Date Author: , June 6th, 2014

Marriott Marquis San Francisco

Marriott International launched its #LoveTravels marketing campaign on June 2, targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender customers–as well as pro-LGBT consumers–with a campaign designed to “convey the company’s commitment to make everyone feel comfortable being who they are.”

The campaign already has its own dedicated website (two of them, actually); hotel-mounted billboards in Washington DC; and is spreading in social and LGBT media. Shot by the photographer Braden Summers, it features the recently out-of-the-closet basketball player Jason Collins and the transgender model Geena Rocero, and invites people to share their stories of travel on social media with the hashtag #LoveTravels. The campaign is timed to attract attention at LGBT Pride celebrations in New York, Washington and San Francisco. This is just the latest pro-LGBT move by Marriott’s executive director, Bill Marriott, a visible, lifelong Mormon who has professed faith in his church’s teachings–including traditional marriage.

The son of the chain’s founder, J. Willard Marriott (the man that former Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney, whose given name is Willard, was named for), Bill Marriott is not a newcomer to the LGBT rights movement. In fact, he has been a quiet supporter of LGBT rights for more than 25 years. Marriott International began offering benefits for same-sex domestic partners of their American employees in the late 1990s. Since 2007, Marriott has consistently earned high ratings from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a leading American LGBT watchdog organization, and the hotel chain joined HRC’s coalition of businesses opposing the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages until it was overturned in 2013 by the Supreme Court. Marriott opposed California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage. And a Marriott hotel in Chicago even hosted the “International Mr. Leather Competition,” a leather fetish pageant, in 2012.

By Yitz Jordan – Full Story at Quartz

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